Otsego Ace, Chelsea Outpace D2 Field

November 3, 2018

Second Half reports

BROOKLYN — When Alex Comerford of Otsego decided it was go time, the race was over.

Nobody else in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final field could muster a response to Comerford’s 4:49.11 second-mile surge, one which turned a close race at the mile into a 2.1-mile victory lap for the champion.

Comerford made all-state for the fourth time, but for the first time as the winner, when he crossed the line Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in 15:23.6.

East Grand Rapids junior Evan Bishop was second in 15:35.2.

“It’s awesome,” Comerford said. “I couldn’t ask for any better people to do it with. All of my teammates, we’ve come so far this year from where we started. We have so many young guys.”

Comerford is the only senior on an Otsego team that finished fifth. Two freshmen and a sophomore scored for the Bulldogs.

At the mile mark, Comerford and James Gedris of Grosse Ile came through together in 4:51, five seconds up on the chase pack. It was time for a gear shift.

“I don’t always have the last half mile the other guys do,” Comerford said. “I really had to make a hard move with two miles to go. I felt like I could sustain that pace for a long time. I’m happy with the way it turned out.”

Comerford won 12 out of 13 races this fall, finishing fourth in the Spartan Elite race on Sept. 14. He finished behind Division 1 champion Nick Foster of Ann Arbor Pioneer, Division 4 champion Corey Gorgas of Saugatuck and Gedris.

In his career, Comerford finished 13th, ninth, second and first at the Division 2 meet.

Bishop was thrilled with his finish after placing 61st in Division 1 last year and 22nd in Division 2 as a freshman.

“Going into the race, I was expecting maybe best-case scenario third place today, because Gedris is very good from Grosse Ile, and Alex obviously,” Bishop said. “Those two have always had a decent size gap on me. In the second mile, I saw Gedris coming back to me. Alex was out of the picture, at that point. Gedris was kind of coming back. I was like, “I can get him.’ I put in a little tempo there over the middle mile and used that momentum to the finish.”

A year after winning its first MHSAA Finals championship, Chelsea repeated with 121 points. Fremont was second with 134.

The Bulldogs put together two distinct packs to pull out the victory. Senior Carson Rabbitt (11th, 16:15.8), senior Foster Thorburn (12th, 16:17.0) and junior Will Scott (14th, 16:18.4) finished within 2.6 seconds of each other in the first group. Juniors Zander Hartsuff (56th, 16:55.0) and Joseph Norwood (65th, 16:58.3) were 3.3 seconds apart to complete Chelsea’s scoring.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Otsego’s Alex Comerford (325), Grosse Ile’s James Gedris (285) and Corunna’s Ben Jacobs (227) lead a pack of runners during an early stretch of Saturday’s Division 2 Final. (Middle) Chelsea’s Carson Rabbitt sprints to lead team champ Chelsea’s finishers. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)

Freeland's Hansen Smashes Longstanding Record, FHE Claims 1st Finals Victory

November 4, 2023

BROOKLYN — On the same day Rockford’s Dathan Ritzenhein set a course record at Michigan International Speedway that has never been approached, Kurtis Marlowe of Richland Gull Lake had a performance that was overshadowed.

But Marlowe’s winning time of 15:02.5 in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals in 2000 also stood the test of time.

Until Saturday.

Freeland junior TJ Hansen eclipsed the Division 2 record with his winning time of 14:52.8. Runner-up Solomon Kwartowitz of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood also nearly broke the previous record, finishing in 15:03.3.

Even though it was apparent from earlier races Saturday that perfect conditions made fast times possible, Hansen didn’t set out to break Marlowe’s record.

“No, my goal was to go out and win,” he said. “Play strategy from the front, let others do the work, then just push it. Whatever time I got, I was gonna get. I knew it was going to take a time like that to win it today.

Henry Dixon sets the pace for Forest Hills Eastern's first team championship.“I usually run close to a (personal record) every year at this meet. It’s one of my favorite courses. It’s definitely unique here at the speedway, so I really like the course, I really like to run it.”

Hansen went through the mile mark tied for 11th in 4:54.3, but you could’ve thrown a blanket over the top 12 runners at that point.

It was a three-man race between Hansen, Kwartowitz and 2022 champion Connell Alford of Chelsea when they reached the two-mile mark in 9:46.

Hansen made sure there would be no drama coming down the stretch.

“I was just trying to stay calm, let them do the work, just sit back,” he said. “When I needed to go, I was gonna go. My goal was to stay relaxed.”

Kwartowitz had no complaints with his race.

“It felt really smooth,” he said. “It was great. I didn’t get a chance to race these guys a bunch this year. I did at Spartan (Invitational, in September). I was really hoping to end it with a victory.”

The boys Division 2 team championship was a toss-up between four teams for the second year in a row, with Ada Forest Hills Eastern coming out on top with 134 points. Pinckney was second with 156, East Grand Rapids third with 175 and Allendale fourth with 176.

Last year, 32 points separated the top four teams.

Junior Henry Dixon led Forest Hills Eastern, placing sixth in 15:16.0. Senior Liam Hinman was 29th, senior Brendan Hoving was 30th, senior Cooper Jacobsen was 38th and junior Tyler Endres was 82nd.

It was the first MHSAA championship for Forest Hills Eastern, which had a program-best finish of fourth in 2007.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Freeland's TJ Hansen approaches the finish of his record run Saturday at MIS. (Middle) Henry Dixon sets the pace for Forest Hills Eastern's first team championship. (Photos by Dave McCauley/RunMichigan.com.)